With the object of creating an informed public opinion, the proceedings of Parliament are broadcast during normal sitting hours, though broadcasting hours may be extended at the discretion of the Leader of the House. The effects of broadcasting cannot, of course, be completely ascertained. Some disadvantages and advantages are, however, clear. There is a tendency for speeches in the House, particularly at peak listening times, to be addressed as much to the listening audience as to other members. A “hustings”, rather than a debating style, is likely to be adopted. The cut and thrust of debate and its spontaneity are allowed to suffer in order to reserve best radio hours for leading party spokesmen. The effect of broadcasting on the listening audience is more intangible. The few illusions retained by New Zealanders about their Parliament are not, on the whole, those which bring it into esteem. An unsophisticated audience, at work during the day, becomes familiar with only one aspect of parliamentary life and virtually one class of business: debates on orders of the day in the evening. The contempt which familiarity breeds is the price which Parliament has to pay for the equally intangible educational value of broadcasting.
by Reginald James Harrison, B.SC.ECON.(LOND.), B.A. (DE PAUW), PH.D.(OHIO STATE), Senior Lecturer in Political Science, Victoria University of Wellington.